Hit-and-run motorist gets jail and driving ban

A hit-and-run motorist who knocked over a pedestrian and her dog while driving home from a pub, and then arranged repairs to cover up the damage to his car, was jailed for seven months yesterday.

A district court heard that Edwin Cheng Dawei had celebrated his birthday at Liang Court and was on his way home on Aug 16, 2014 when he knocked down Ms Chen Wei Wei along Thomson Road.

The 41-year-old IT manager suffered a broken elbow and injuries to her head, a leg and body while the dog's body was found a short distance away. Ms Chen was warded for 18 days and given hospitalisation leave for two months.

Cheng, a 34-year-old regional sales manager, was also banned from driving for five years yesterday. He admitted four out of six charges: intentionally obstructing the course of justice; grievously hurting Ms Chen by doing an act so negligently as to endanger life; failing to render help after serious injuries were caused to the pedestrian; and moving his Mercedes-Benz SLK without authority.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Andrew Low said Cheng was driving his car in the centre of Thomson Road at 1.55am when he hit Ms Chen near the junction of Jalan Merlimau. He stopped his car outside an SPC petrol station further down the road. An attendant approached Cheng as he checked his car.

Cheng told him he was involved in an accident and the attendant detected a strong smell of alcohol on Cheng, who did a quick check before driving off with his car's front bumper scratching the road.

The court heard that Cheng later asked his friend to get the car repaired in his absence as he was going overseas. Police tracked him down five days later as the left wing mirror of the car and some broken car parts were found at the scene.

Cheng's lawyer Amolat Singh said his client had an outstanding national service record and deeply regretted committing the offences. The incident was really "out of character'' and came as a shock to his client and family. Cheng knew his car had "rolled over something but could not figure out what''.

Two other charges were taken into consideration. Cheng had traffic-related convictions in 2000 and 2002, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

APP Low, who sought a sentence of eight months' jail and a driving ban, said there was evidence that Cheng had been drinking before the incident and was travelling at a "fast speed''.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda said Cheng could not have missed Ms Chen crossing the road had he kept a proper lookout. "I find that he had consumed alcohol prior to the act, and this, coupled with the speed (at which) he was travelling, had contributed to his failure to notice the pedestrian," he said.

The judge added that Cheng could not have failed to realise he was involved in a serious collision as the damage to his car was extensive. He said Cheng tried to get away from the accident as soon as possible and had no concern for the consequences of his actions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Hit-and-run motorist gets jail and driving ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe